Downsizing Staff Doesn’t Have to be Traumatic – for Companies or for Staff

As more and more people worldwide lose their jobs, many for the first time in their careers, a percentage of those downsized are becoming frustrated with their employers’ handling of the situation and making decisions to take ill-advised actions such as those detailed in the story below.  To be fair, when such an action is taken, it is rarely meant to cause any sort of harm, but rather to express the former employees’ frustration in the hope it will cause change.  Obviously there are a great many reasons for this anger and frustration, but among them is one that is unlikely to  be discussed – firms that handle their downsizing in a clumsy, inappropriate manner without regard to the needs of long-time loyal employees.

As an experienced Outplacement Consultant, I have been involved in a significant number of layoff actions for firms of all sizes.  The ones that are typically most successful are those that have been well-planned, have used my company (or a similar one) to develop and implement a process for the downsizing – for the company and the employees (those being laid off AND those remaining), and where the company has been open and honest with the reasons, the timing, and other relevant information.  Obviously, while the word “successful” is one I am hesitant to use, for the purpose of this example it is appropriate.  What I mean by “successful” is a layoff where the terminated employees do not feel mistreated and are as well taken care of as possible with services to help them obtain new employment, where the remaining employees have a clear understanding of the current and future situation, and where the employer has provided notice and treated its employees with respect;  and all of these actions have resulted in a well-mannered, well-organized layoff with terminated employees being provided resources and opportunity, remaining employees being confident that their jobs are secure and their former associates have been well-treated, and where the employer achieves its staff reduction without trauma and maybe even receiving a “thank you” or two.

Having counseled employers in this situation, I can state as a fact that most employers cannot comprehend that there will be any reaction to a layoff other than anger and mistrust.   However, I can assure you as a result of my personal experience with employers who’ve done it right – and with employers who haven’t – that those who choose to implement a well-planned, respectful process will actually have employees thanking them for providing them the ability to take advantage of new opportunities.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes!

My best advice to you if your firm is in a situation where it is considering a downsizing is to hire a consultant, plan a process so that you only have to do this once, and take care of your employees (terminated and retained) as well as you possibly can.  It will benefit you in both the short-term and the long-term in ways you can’t imagine – even after the economy has turned and your company has rebounded.  I encourage you to read the article below and take steps to insure that your employees don’t feel the need to take such actions.  Should you need guidance regarding a potential downsizing, please feel free to contact our firm, Strategic Growth Concepts, at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

 

Freedom For Kidnapped 3M Boss

Vidya Ram , 03.26.09, Forbes

But French ire over layoffs and the economy is growing.

Workers at a factory in the French town of Pithiviers have finally released Luc Rousselet, a French manager for American firm 3M who was held in his office for more than a day after being locked in by employees who were angry about layoffs.

Public anger over job cuts and bonuses has been more widespread in France than in the U.S. and Britain, where public ire is largely aimed at high ranking figures in the financial services sector. The home of former Royal Bank of Scotland (nyse: RBSnews people ) boss Fred Goodwin was attacked on Wednesday, while in the U.S. senior managers at American Insurance Group (nyse: AIGnews people ) have been warned to take extra care. (See “Calling All Banker Bodyguards.”)SNEnews people ) French operations was held hostage over night by angry employees, protesting the terms of their severance package. (See “Want A Better Payoff? Kidnap Your Boss.”) In February workers at a factory of tire maker Michelin (other-otc: MGDDFnews people ) held two managers hostage overnight.

Last week, millions demonstrated across France against the government’s handling of the economy, and demanding salary caps at companies that are laying-off people. Less than two weeks ago, the head of Sony’s (nyse:

“In France there is an established culture of public and political protest that Britain the U.S. don’t really have,” said David Lea of Control Risk Group. “The preservation of jobs is considered a major goal, so companies, particularly those that are engaging in pre-emptive layoffs, are facing problems.”

So far, none of the situations seem to have taken a violent turn. Pictures taken through windows of the building show a disgruntled looking Rousselet eating dinner, with a bottle of sparkling water. “He is in good spirits and in good shape,” 3M (nyse: MMMnews people ) had said in a statement on Thursday. “3M is now prepared to restart the negotiation process with the union with the assistance of a mediator and local government officials.”

The workers locked Rousselet, a supply chain director, in his office after discussions over how to handle the 110 layoffs at the 225 person factory. 3M, which produces everything from post-it notes to dog collars has announced job cuts across its operations globally.

_______________________________________________________
The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.
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